Sexual Abuse

What is child sexual abuse?

Child sexual abuse or molestation describes any incident between a child, an adolescent or a grownup that uses their power and authority to interact a minor in a sexual act, or expose the minor to inappropriate sexual behavior or material. Sexual abuse includes the fondling of genitals, masturbation, oral sex, vaginal or anal penetration using the penis, finger or any different object, fondling of breasts, voyeurism, exhibitionism, and exposing or involving the child in pornography.  Incest, molestation, pedophilia, rape, and statutory rape are also forms of sexual abuse. Perpetrators use techniques to manipulate their victims by threatening them, having them believe that the abuse was their fault, and convincing them that the act was an expression of their love.

Sexual abuse by a family member is described as incest, which can cause long-term psychological trauma. When not properly treated, it can result in a lifetime of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, alcohol, and drug dependency, just to name a few. In most cases, victims are often too young to know how to express what is happening and are afraid to seek out help. Because sexual abuse, molestation, and rape are such shame-filled concepts, our culture has tried to ignore and look the other way regarding this issue. Only in just recent years, society has begun recognizing sexual abuse as a serious epidemic. However, there is still much work to be done to diminish the alarming number of child sexual abuse cases.

Most sexual abuse offenders know their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, uncles, or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances, such as “friends” of the family, babysitters, or neighbors; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases. Most child sexual abuse is committed by men; studies on female child molesters show that women commit 14% to 40% of offenses reported against boys, and 6% of offenses reported against girls.

Sexual abuse does not discriminate and affects children and adults in many cultures, socioeconomic, educational, and religious backgrounds. An adult who engages in sexual activity with a child is performing a criminal and immoral act, which is not normal or socially appropriate behavior.

The recent statistics for child sexual abuse reported by the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sex Offenses and Offenders.

One in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult.

82% of all victims under 18 are female.

Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.

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